Business Game Changer Focus: Sarah Kauter offers insight on the Japanese business trend taking off in the UK

 

Microsoft Japan has been in the news a lot recently as they have released figures that show how giving their staff a four-day working week throughout August increased their productivity levels by 40%.

 

The tech company gave their 2,300 employees every Friday off as ‘special paid leave’ and saw a hugely positive reaction as a result. However, whilst Microsoft in the UK haven’t employed this tactic yet, there are plenty of businesses that have.

 

Verriberri PR and Marketing have been on a four-day working week for the past 12 months and have ironed out all the potential issues. We believe this is the best business move we could have made and here’s why:

 

Client Benefits.

 

Our clients showed an exceedingly positive response to being provided with 8am-6pm support. The extra time we’re able to devote to them is quite clearly appreciated, and goes a long way. Having two extra hours in their working day allows my team to achieve much more than they would on a regular 9-5 shift; something that is certainly recognised by our clients. This allows them to go home at the end of the day with a feeling of accomplishment, knowing they have left the client fully satisfied.

 

Employee Benefits.

 

The 8am start may have initially seemed daunting, with the 6pm finish appearing excruciatingly far away. On the contrary, it was immediately apparent that these extra two hours a day went by unnoticed, and were nothing compared to the joy of a three-day weekend.

 

The four-day working week provides my employees with a much more satisfying work/life balance. It gives them the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends, as well as indulge in activities that they may not have previously had time to enjoy. For example, several of my staff take classes to further their education, or a side project, they find that their extra day off is monumental to this.

 

A significant amount is saved on annual travel costs by having one less excursion to and from work per week. On top of this, my staff are technically receiving 52 extra days holiday per year, whilst still working the same hours and receiving the same salary as a five-day working week! These bonus days allow the team to save their annual leave, resulting in a lump sum of days for them to book off at their leisure.

 

From a management perspective, this is a benefit as the increased morale and motivation helps me to retain staff and build a positive relationship with each individual employee.

 

Things To Consider.

 

As previously mentioned, there were potential issues that needed ironing out, as highlighted below:

 

First of all, it was of the utmost importance that we made it clear to our clients what we were doing, as to not confuse them with delayed responses. With the simple addition of the individual employees working days and hours within the footer of each email they distribute, this dormant issue was immediately resolved.

 

Our annual leave schedules had to be completely rearranged (we track time off in hours, rather than days), and for this reason it’s certainly advisable to implement the four-day work week at the beginning of the leave year.

 

It’s also important to anticipate how bank holidays, employee sickness and swapped days will affect the fluidity of the four-day work week, along with creating a balance between departments. For example, it’s nonsensical to give the entire PR team the same day off every week.

 

Overall, after careful consideration and planning for each of these potential problems, the choice to switch to a four-day working week is one I certainly wouldn’t take back, and I’m confident that my employees would agree.

 

By Sarah Kauter, MD of VerriBerri Digital

 

 

 

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